Top military general visits Moray to learn about spy planes on order

General Sir Gordon Messenger, pictured left, was shown the capabilities of the P-8 Poseidon on his visit to RAF Lossiemouth.

One of the most senior members of the armed forces has visited Moray to inspect planes which will be based in the region in the future.

Personnel from the US Navy demonstrated the capabilities of the P-8 Poseidon aircraft to General Sir Gordon Messenger during his visit to RAF Lossiemouth.

The vice-chief of the defence staff ran the rule over the spy planes, in advance of their much-anticipated arrival at the base in 2019.

The submarine-hunting aircraft are in Moray this week as part of a complex war games exercise involving troops from across the globe.

More than 50 planes from the USA, Germany and France are joining UK crews as part of Operation Joint Warrior to enhance anti-submarine warfare skills as well as carry out intelligence gathering and engage in close air support.

The announcement of the Poseidons’ arrival in 2019 heralded a massive £400million investment in the Moray base to equip it for 500 extra personnel.

Extended runways, homes, improved fire service facilities and a new air traffic control centre are expected to be created in the coming years.

A £100million training centre for the planes will also be built by Boeing to give crews from around the world experience on the specialist equipment.

Group Captain Paul Godfrey, station commander at RAF Lossiemouth, accompanied General Messenger on the tour of the Moray base.

The man, who is second-in-command of the UK’s armed forces, believes Lossiemouth is the best location for the spy planes.

He said: “This aircraft will be pivotal in terms of RAF capability and the whole of the UK armed forces.

“RAF Lossiemouth is the ideal base from which to operate the P-8A Poseidon due to its close proximity to one of the aircraft’s most likely area of operations.

“It is also well placed for other maritime patrol activities and potential search and rescue operations.

“This important basing decision will bring significant economic benefits to the Highlands and Islands and Moray communities.”